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Help! I've been referred... what now?

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Received the dreaded referral following your RICS APC final assessment? What now?

You can only control so many things in life - there's no going back to before your final assessment interview or preliminary review submission. Trying to control the uncontrollable only leads to unnecessary stress and takes vital energy away from what you need to do most.

All you can do is look forward and put plans in place to control what you can. This will help you put yourself in the best position for your next sitting.

Your mental health matters

Whilst it's all well and good for us to say that, we understand that you may be feeling upset, disappointed, frustrated and angry. It might not yet seem real and you may just want to hide away from the world for a while, although it may be a good idea to talk to those close to you about how you feel.

We're not going to shy away from the fact that we all need to mindful of our mental health in an industry that can be highly stressful at times. But remember there is support out there if you need a friendly ear.

Being referred does not mean you are a failure - work is just one part of your life and does not define who you are - there are many reasons why things might not have gone as well as you had hoped on the day.

What do I do next?

Emotions and stress aside, you need to put a plan in action to move on from your referral and work toward RICS APC success at your next final assessment or preliminary review submission.

You are most certainly not alone, first of all. If you know other RICS APC candidates in your local area, get in touch and speak to them about their experiences - it doesn't matter whether they passed or were referred. Use your support network to your advantage - you could form an (online) study group with candidates sitting in the next session, for example.

If you were unsuccessful last session, you will be able to download your referral report from ARC within 21 days of receiving your result.

Make sure you download a copy as it may subsequently become unavailable when ARC is re-opened for you to record your ongoing experience. This report is one of the most important documents that will help you prepare for success at your next sitting.

Can I appeal?

Yes, you have the right to appeal - but this can't simply be because you don't agree with the decision that your panel arrived at!

An appeal can only be brought on the grounds that there was an issue with the assessment process and will not relate in any way to your level of competence as a surveyor.

You will need to submit an Appeal Form from the RICS website, together with the required fee, within 21 days of receiving your referral report. The whole appeal process typically takes around 7 weeks from submitting your appeal.

Appeal panels comprise three chartered surveyors who will decide whether your appeal is allowed or not - this is a final decision and cannot be revisited. If you are successful, then you will have the opportunity to re-sit your final assessment interview.

What is the referral report?

Your referral report is vital to understanding what didn't go so well and, crucially, how you can improve things for your next assessment.

Read the report carefully, and ask those close to you to read it as well.

You may already know what went wrong, but having the specific areas highlighted by your assessment panel will form an action plan going forward. At Property Elite, we can help you to assess your areas of weakness and turn these into strengths in time for your next sitting.

What are commons reasons for referral?

  • Being under-prepared
  • Needing more experience, either in just one, some or all areas
  • Not having sufficient CPD
  • Submissions needing work, e.g. not sufficiently professional, examples not given at level 3
  • Failure to answer mandatory competency questions adequately, e.g. ethics, Rules of Conduct

Remember, you are not expected to be the very best surveyor - but to demonstrate a level of competence and professionalism that is befitting of being elected MRICS. This means that you don't need to know every technical detail about your chosen competencies - but you are expected to know where to source information from, where your scope of practice begins and ends and how you should behave ethically and morally.

How can I plan to succeed?

Our general recommendations for success are:

  • Working on your presentation skills
  • Controlling your nerves and stress on the day
  • Submitting a professional final assessment submission
  • Addressing any areas of weakness in your technical or mandatory competencies
  • Ensuring that you have satisfied the correct competency levels within your Summary of Experience, e.g. examples of giving reasoned advice in level 3
  • Gaining additional experience if needed
  • Maintaining your CPD hours in relevant areas

You will then need to ensure you submit your revised final assessment at the right time and in the right format via ARC. You will want to make sure that the areas identified in your referral report are clearly addressed. This will give you the best chance of RICS APC success at your next sitting.

How will I be reassessed next time?

When resubmitting in the next APC submission window, you will not have to declare that you have been referred. This means that you will be considered by your assessment panel to be a 'first time' candidate at each subsequent assessment.

You will want to update your original submission to tackle the concerns outlined in your referral report, however, as well as updating what you have written to take account of any hot topics or changes in your area of practice.

Do I need to update my CPD record?

Yes, you will need to do this on ARC to cover the period between your referral and next APC assessment.

Getting help

Property Elite can offer a range of support packages including submission feedback and review, APC question pack, e-mock interview or 1-2-1 mentoring. There's also a wealth of free resources on our website including e-books and revision quizzes.

LionHeart can also offer one-to-one support for APC candidates including coaching and counselling as well as webinars that may help with your mental preparations.

Jen Lemen FRICS is co-founder of Property Elite, which provides training and support for the RICS APC, Assoc RICS and FRICS qualifications. She is also an RICS APC assessor. This blog was first published on the Property Elite website and does not constitute legal, professional or financial advice.

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